Wednesday, July 31, 2013

23 days...

It's been 23 days since I last posted on this blog.  For me not posting it sure seemed like a longer than that so I guess I am doing better with this whole blogging thing if 3 weeks is seeming like a lot of time.

Before when I have blogged I've let 4 or 5 months lapse before feeling like it's been a long time.

Anyway, in these three weeks we have finally stopped homeschooling.  It was a mixture of giving up and being exhausted.  We had our amount of time for school done and while we are not quite finished with all of our books I figure we can do this all when we start back up in September.

We are now in our second week of summer break and it has been really nice.  I've been trying to not get on the kids about lazing around the house and just doing whatever they've wanted.  It's been a nice change of pace.

And while the kids are lazing and playing and having fun I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut  off trying to figure out what to do for our homeschooling in the fall.  Monday we are going up to visit Nick's cousin and to get some school materials in the Chicago area.

Well that is what has been going on in these last 23 days :)  We have a garage sale coming up this weekend and hopefully it will be soon calm down here and things will get back to normal.
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Cleaning the Ins and Outs of Me and the House



As Summer has crept in I have noticed my laziness growing.  After all it is hot and humid and these are supposed to be the days when you are out of school and able to throw some of your grown up inhibition to the wind, right?

Unfortunately I also find that my wanting to be a free spirit somehow contradicts itself.  I don't want to go to the gym because I don't want to be kept indoors when it is so beautiful outside. I don't want to go running because it is too hot and sticky...see what I mean about contradictory?  I don't want to clean because there are so many more fun things to do with the kiddos but then I don't go outside with the kiddos as much as I should because there is just so much to do around the house.  Grrrr.

However I find that during quiet time I sit down at the computer to pinterest away at pinning: cleaning tips for cleaning I am not doing, workouts I am not doing, and recipes I am not making.  And before I know it my free time is gone and I have accomplished very little to feel satisfaction about.

Yes I know  I sound lazy because in these past few weeks I have been incredibly lazy!!!!

So today it hit me as I was playing with the kiddos outside and working out in the yard...

What would our yard look like if I took just 10 minutes every day to work out here?  Weeding, picking up sticks, and in general tidying up may not be so daunting if I did a little bit every day.

And in that I thought what if that and my cleaning (which I also felt convicted to do after applying my few minutes a day rule to cleaning roo) were my workout too?

To test it out I cleaned the  bathroom today.  And in doing that I am not talking my normal cleaning of I got out a clorox wipe and dabbed around a bit but that I did a hard core cleaning.  Scrubbing the walls, toothbrushing grout, I was all over the grossness of getting the grody out of the loo.  And in doing that I found myself panting, sweating and using muscles that haven't been used in July yet.

So that is my plan for the summer.  Cleaning up the inside and outside of this house to get myself cleaned up.  We'll see how this goes :)  I think it's going to be a messy job!
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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why I Love Gymboree

One of the questions I get asked most often is how my kids are dressed so stinking cute.  And while often times this question has me scratching my head as to what they mean (after all I am home with them the majority of the time wearing grimy mismatched play clothes) the truth is that I do dress them pretty well when we are out in public and NOT running through sprinklers, jumping in mud puddles or bringing slimy things we've name "Frank" home.

And the selfish side of me wants to not tell you how I dress them so cutely.  I mean, you can just imagine that we pay full retail, right?  But that is not truthful and to keep all of my tricks up my sleeve just isn't nice so I thought I should share them with you.

Would you like to know?

Well I have scads of secrets but the one I am sharing with you is one of my favorites...

GYMBOREE!!!!

I love Gymboree.  And I have to tell you the thing they have me addicted with is all of the cute girl clothes that they offer.  The boy clothes throughout the year I could basically take them or leave them (except for Christmas and Easter!!!) but the Girls clothes are what make me drool when I think of our Angel in matching dress, tights, shoes, and hair accessories!

Now, Gymboree if you have ever heard of it then you know it is expensive.  And can get expensive really really quickly if you don't watch yourself.  My trick is to have a plan, Stan.  This has taken me years to perfect so it would be hard for me to tell you what to buy and when to buy them and how to do it in just one blog post.

Most importantly: Watch for sales.  Saturday I went during the sale of everything being $12.99 or under.  I went in also with a 20% coupon I scored from a Parents Magazine.  Which by the way the magazine, I didn't pay for.  I watch websites like Money Saving Mom and Baby Savers  for links and info about when you can snag free magazine subscriptions.

At Gymboree you can use a coupon with a sale so that makes for even more amazing deals!  The last trick I have up my sleeve is my trusty Gymboree Credit Card which saves me an additional 5% off purchases.  Paying it off every month I know what I spend and it's a free savings.  Woohoo!

I'd like to show you how this works.
 Check out all of this stuff I bought!!!  I only spent $50.57 plus tax!
 Tighty whiteys for our little prince!
 Preemie winter outfit which will be  a Christmas gift for Emma for her American Girl Bitty Baby (they fit perfectly!!!)
 Accessories are a girls best friend!!!
I scored 3 Birthday shirts!!!  

So here's how I do it...
Owl Curly Clips, Full price... $6.00
Marked down to .99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $.75
Striped Tights, Full price...$14.95
Marked down to $1.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $1.51
St. Pats Underwear, Full price...$5.95
Marked down to $1.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $1.51
St. Pats Underwear, Full price...$5.95
Marked down to $1.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $1.51
Camo Underwear, Full price...$5.95
Marked down to $1.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $1.51
Flower Headband, Full price $8.00
Marked down to $1.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $1.52
Blue Satin Headband, Full price $8.00
Marked down to $1.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $1.51
Owl Hair Clip, Full price $6.00
Marked down to $.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $.75
Cuffed Boys Jean, Full price $32.95
Marked down to $7.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $6.07
Birthday Boy Long Sleeved Shirt, Full price $18.95
Marked down to $3.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $2.43
Ombre boys tee, Full price $16.95
Marked down to $6.49 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $4.93
Dotted Infant Onepiece, Full price $34.95
Marked down to $6.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $5.31
Rhinestone Flare Jeans, Full price $32.95
Marked down to $6.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $5.32
Zebra Dress, Full price $34.95
Marked down to $12.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $9.87
2 Birthday Girl Shirts, Full price each $24.95
Each Marked down to $3.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them each for $3.03
Yellow Flower Pony Tail Holder, Full price $6.00
Marked down to $.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $.75
Pink Socks, Full price $4.25
Marked down to $.99 and with Coupon and Discount I got them for $.77

If I had paid full retail my total would  have been $286.70! That's a savings of over 82% y'all!

Unbelievable, right???  

And You'll notice I spent JUST over $50.00, by 57 cents to be exact (before tax).  Which is on purpose.  I get as close to $50.00 as I can.  For every $50 you spend, you earn Gymbucks.  What are Gymbucks you ask?  They are certificates you earn that you come back later to use.  It's $25.00 off of a $50.00 purchase.  Gymboree almost always has either earning time or redeeming time going on throughout the year.  I spent $50 and earned a $25.00 gymbucks to use starting the 18th.  If you spend as close to $50 as you can that makes your gymbuck basically a 50% off coupon friends!  So I am super excited that I'll get to go back in two weeks for more shopping!  

Now...

If you're really paying attention to this post and not just skimming you'll probably be wondering by now why I bought all of this...does she really need 2 birthday girl shirts???  

And the answer is absolutely not.  I don't even need one because I already have one for Em.  But here's the answer...come close.  

Closer.  

Closer.  

I'll whisper it...

I sell the stuff on Ebay. 

Amazing, right?  I've actually been doing it for years!  When I stayed home I had to figure out a way to still dress our kids in super duper cute clothes without stretching our budget past the brink of no return.  Selling items on ebay has been our solution.  The secret is I will buy maybe one thing for each  child (in this trip I got Emma the dress, Cal a tee and the jeans, and I got the infant outfit as a Christmas gift) and I will sell the rest on ebay.  By doing this I usually make enough to pay for everything I've bought.  And if it's a little under it's okay because when the kids are done with the clothes I can turn around and sell their USED Gymboree clothes for often more than I paid for them new.  Weird, wild stuff going on, right?  

A tip if you go into Gymboree and really can't spend the money is to look at the accessories.  A lot of times I can pair an accessory of theirs with a non-Gymboree outfit or just a solid shirt and make a super cute outfit...it is all about accessorizing after all, right???  And there are always adorable hair bows or headbands on super clearance!!!  

I am definitely not about to write a tutorial for you on how to sell on ebay or anything because it would stink and would fall and crash and die a horrible death but if you do have  any specific questions feel free to ask away...I'll try my best to sound like i know what I am talking about :)

So there  you have it...my secret's out on why I love Gymboree so much (because you can save a ton and sell it too!!! ) and how I get my kids to look so adorable on the cheap.  Hope this inspires you to save money on your little one's duds :)  

Happy Shopping!!!
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Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July and Weekend!

Yesterday was the fourth of July and sadly we had no friends having cook outs or anything going on.  Poor Nick has been painting the house every day he's had off of work, the children have been slaving away around the house with school, and quite frankly we all just needed a break! 


So we headed out to Chicago which is only about an hour and a half from our house for the day.  We were very thrilled to just get out of the area for a little while.  Emma had a gift card to American Girl to spend which is conveniently located right next to the Lego store.  Our two favorite stores were checked off the list and then Mommy's fave store, H&M was visited as it is right across the street.  

After the shopping we went up to Lincoln Park to visit the zoo.  We had a picnic and then headed in.  


 Mr. Laid Back and Miss Sassy Pants.  Yep, those are our two kids.
 The children rode the Endangered Animals Carousel which they seemed thrilled with.  Emma had a big, glamorous bow that matched her dress but she didn't want to wear it.  I'm trying really hard to not let OCD get to me and just to let her be.   What a sweet girl she is!  She kept telling Nick thank you over and over for the day.  
 Here was Cal going around and then...
 Before long this whirled around.  Apparently as Cal reported to us, his name is Frank and he REALLY, REALLY wanted something on his head.  What a silly boy!
  I think our family favorite part of the day was seeing the Polar Bear.  Emma and I studied them last year and she remembered so much about them!  I was pretty impressed, actually!


 After grabbing some Garrett's popcorn we headed down to Chinatown for some shopping and strolling.  Cal found some ninja swords he just had to have and Emma got a stuffed animal.  What is up with girls and stuffed animals?  Anyone else's daughter just seem to not be able to get enough of them?
Calvin was very over sensitized by this point so as much as I wanted to stay and eat we headed home. Which was fine because he got progressively worse the closer we got to home.  So glad I didn't have to wrangle that in a sit down restaurant!

When we got home we let the dog out, had dinner, and then headed out for local fireworks.  It was a fast paced day and it was choked full of so much fun!  Hope your's was too, sweet friend!  And hopefully you're just having a super duper long weekend of celebrating!
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lego Homeschooling

Homegrown Leaners has some great pages featuring aliens and super hero minifigures where you can design your own and then stretch your language arts skills with describing them.

Walking By The Way has some adorable lego printables with mazes and the like!  We loved them all.

I found all of these through this great site Free Homeschool Deals which has lego learning emphasized.


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On the Prowl...

Hunting for Roly-Polys of course requires a cape!
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DIY Sidewalk Paint

Last week we took the kiddos to see Monsters University.  It was so cute!  And because I am such a dork we went all out...including the fact that I bought them matching shirts to wear to the movie :)  How cute, right?
But as we are doing year round homeschooling, which should have been going on, we got a little off schedule with all of the noshing on popcorn, guzzling down sodas, and laughing at monsters.  

We tried to do school later on but it was pretty disasterous.  A monsterous disaster :)

So I sent the kids to their rooms to do their reading.  And while they were reading I went ahead and made a little thing called Sidewalk Paint.  

Here's what I did:  
1 cup water 
1 cup cornstarch
Various food colorings

I then divided the liquid into 6 styrofoam cups and added the coloring.  We used thicker paintbrushes but you could always use sponges or Popsicle sticks or lots of things I guess!
 The kids seemed to really like this idea.  As you can see they spent a lot of time using it as "fence paint" too!  Whatever works for these sweeties is fine by me :)

I read a lot of posts about not using food coloring because it stains but I can attest by my daughter coming in to tell me that Cal was mixing the colors and dumping  it on himself that it really didn't stain.

Hope you have fun with your paints too :)  It was a quick fun project to break up the boring day of when we should have been doing school :)

By the way this is our son trying to foot print paint on the fence...what ideas he comes up with :)
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